Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
BACKUP HEAT for HEAT PUMPS
BANGING HEATING PIPES RADIATORS
BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING
BOOKSTORE - InspectAPedia
BTU USAGE MONITORS
CARBON MONOXIDE - CO
CIRCULATOR PUMPS & RELAYS
DIAGNOSTIC GUIDES A/C / HEAT PUMP
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-BOILER
DIAGNOSE & FIX HEATING PROBLEMS-FURNACE
DIRECT VENTS / SIDE WALL VENTS
DRAFT REGULATORS, DAMPERS, BOOSTERS
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
ELECTRIC HEAT, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
FAN, AIR HANDLER BLOWER UNIT
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLUE SIZE SPECIFICATIONS
GAS BURNER Flame & Noise Defects
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GEOTHERMAL HEATING SYSTEMS
HEAT PUMPS, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
HEATING COST SAVINGS METHODS
HEATING OIL PIPING TROUBLES
HEATING OIL TANKS
HEATING SYSTEM NOISES
HEATING SYSTEM TYPES
LP & Natural Gas Safety Hazards
MANUALS & PARTS GUIDES - HVAC
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
NOISE, HEATING SYSTEMS
ODORS FROM HEATING SYSTEMS
OIL FILTERS on HEATING EQUIPMENT
OIL FILL PIPE LEAKS
OIL SPILL CLEANUP / PREVENTION
PLASTIC HEATER VENT
PUFFBACKS, OIL BURNER
RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
Reset Switch - Heater Primary Control
RESET SWITCH - ELECTRIC MOTOR
Reset Switch - Stack Relays
SAFETY, HEATING INSPECTION
SAFETY RECALLS CHIMNEYS VENTS HEATERS
SOLAR HEATING SYSTEM DESIGNS
SOOT on OIL FIRED HEATING EQUIPMENT
STEAM HEATING SYSTEMS
THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING
VIDEO GUIDES: Heating System Videos
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
WOOD, COAL STOVES & FIREPLACES
WOOD STOVE SAFETY
This article series gives detailed step by step procedures to be used during the inspection of a heating system in order to be thorough, organized, and accurate. We describe how to inspect, troubleshoot and repair heating and air conditioning systems to inform home owners, buyers, and home inspectors of common heating system defects. The articles at this website describe the basic components of a home heating system, how to find the rated heating capacity of an heating system by examining various data tags and components, how to recognize common heating system operating or safety defects, and how to save money on home heating costs.
Readers needing to find and fix un-wanted air leaks, heat losses, or other energy wasters should see HEAT LOSS DETECTION TOOLS. Readers should see ENERGY SAVINGS RETROFIT CASE STUDY and also see HEAT LOSS DETECTION TOOLS and INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT for energy saving retrofit detailed guides. Contact us to suggest text changes and additions and, if you wish, to receive online listing and credit for that contribution.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
How to Inspect Heating Systems - Example of An Approach to the Forensic Inspection of Any Complex System
This document presents a detailed methodology for inspecting, diagnosing, & repairing defects on residential heating systems with attention to inspection methods selected to assure completeness, accuracy, and the maximum level of defect detection. The heating system inspection methodology described here serves as a guide to the forensic diagnostic inspection of any complex system where the highest probability of detecting important safety or operating defects is important.We describe organized procedures for inspecting complex systems for defects, without losing the ability to discover unexpected problems as well.
© Copyright Daniel Friedman 2008-1993 all rights reserved -- Tri-State ASHI Home Inspection Education Seminar - Initial Presentation November 6-7, 1993 -- Last update 11/10/2007
This presentation follows a procedure for inspecting, using heating system operating sequence as a method to assure that all important system components are considered. A version of the ASHI Standards of Home Inspection Practice (readers should check most recent Standards version for changes) is mapped into this heating system inspection procedure but does not guide the actual inspection sequence. The organization of home inspection standards is not intended as a guide to an inspection sequence nor as a guide to heating system inspection reports. Home Inspection Standards requirements during the inspection of a home heating system are identified in italics in the text below.
HEATING INSPECTION PROCEDURE - A Detailed Step by Step Inspection Procedure for Heating Systems & Heating Equipment
Viewpoint #1:--Distant (from the heating equipment): walking around the house, from the ground, just looking, notice and record:
Age of the neighborhood, other inspections done in the area, age of the house, may suggest type and even the brand of equipment which may be in place. Builders of developments often purchased many of the same brand and model for all the houses there.
ASHI 9.2.A.1 The inspector shall describe the energy source Identify probable fuel source: oil, gas, electric, coal, wood, solar Notice the oil filler and vent, spills, and whether or not there is easy access to the oil tank filler pipe.
Also notice any evidence of old, possibly abandoned oil tanks (abandoned oil lines, protruding pipes, age of property, depressions in the soil), or of changes from one type of fuel to another (coal bins). These have potentially major cost implications (improperly abandoned oil tanks) or safety concerns (changes of fuel, unsafe chimneys).
[Examples of "distant" implications] ASHI 9.1.A.4 chimneys, flues, and vents Look for, then at the chimney. Is there a chimney? If not is there electric heat, direct-vent equipment, or no heat? Thinking about what chimneys do lets you understand the implications of your observations. These items are examples, not a comprehensive list.
Here are examples of outdoor observations that should be noted: they provide important information about the type, condition, and safety of the heating system in a building.
If there is no chimney cap
Old stone chimneys
These observations and conclusions can be made quickly without needing to ask anyone anything, as soon as you enter the building:
Type of Heat Distribution
Viewpoint #3--Distant broad view of the heating equipment from the utility room.
The equipment is directly in view but not yet closely examined.
What are we looking at? Form a working definition that helps clients understand the system too: A system which heats the house. A steel, copper, or cast iron "box" of hot water, connected to a loop of pipe (and radiators or baseboards) which runs around through the living area. The same physical water stays in the boiler and is circulated by a pump so that heat is delivered to the living area. Burning oil makes hot gases which are used to heat the water before being exhausted outside. Pumps move fluids. Safety controls at various points protect against a number of potential hazards.
Training in proper operation sequence of heating system equipment and in the function of its controls is a step towards technical correctness.If you do not understand how a mechanical system works you cannot reliably expect to observe missing or defective components. This discussion is an exercise using sequence of operation to work for completeness. It is not technically exhaustive, it focuses on a specific example: oil-fired hot water, zoned, heating system.
Examine the accessible parts of the system. Let your eye travel from component to component in the sequence of operation. Apply the inspection logic discussed earlier, at each step. Consider the implications should each component be missing, damaged, inoperative, leaky, noisy, sooty, repaired by an amateur, etc.
Think through the operating sequence as you examine each component in that order. The following are the steps in one common set-up. This list is lengthy and detailed. The actual visual examination may take only a few minutes.
For a complete and accurate inspection of a heating system, the inspector may think through the step by step description of how a heating boiler works. In the reference cited just below we name each heating system component and what it does, in the order that heating system components operate during the heating cycle. Items shown in [brackets] are ones which may not be present on some heating systems. The detailed step by step description of how a heating boiler operates can be read at BOILER OPERATION DETAILS
How to Inspect the Heating System Controls and Switches
While going through the detailed sequence in the operation of the heating boiler, the heating system inspector should watch for and inspect the condition of the heating boiler controls and safety devices (as required by ASHI 9.1.A.3 automatic safety controls). Our detailed description of heating system controls, what they do, how to set them, how to inspect them, is at BOILER CONTROLS & SWITCHES
How to Inspect Heating Systems for Leaks, Rust, Corrosion Damage
The inspector must be particularly alert for evidence of leaks, corrosion, or other signs of damage to the heating system. Our detailed description of where to look for leaks on heating boilers and what those leaks or leak signs may mean can be found at BOILER LEAKS CORROSION STAINS
How to Recognize Heating System Defects by the Implication of Clues
The heating system inspector must be alert for many signs of heating system malfunction or safety defects. To inspect a heating system effectively, the inspector must understand the implications of what s/he is observing since otherwise an important clue may go unrecognized and a major heating system defect may go unreported. We discuss the interpretation of heating system observations and clues further at Heating Equipment Malfunction & Implications. For still more details about heating system malfunctions see BOILER OPERATING PROBLEMS for an extensive list of heating system clues and what they mean for the safety, adequacy, or reliability of the heating system.
If the furnace or boiler turns on immediately when the thermostat is turned-on or up from the living area what does this mean?
A pressure control set to 10 PSI indicates some operating problem with system, addressed by a service person who's trying to "force" steam into the house rather than debugging a problem, probably with piping or steam valves. Service has been by someone unfamiliar with steam systems.
Absence of any sign that the occupants ever drain and clean the automatic water feeder suggests risk of inoperative key safety device. Needs attention even if you see absolutely no problems. Modified piping? improperly sloped radiators?
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No FAQs have been posted for this page. Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Use the search box below to ask a question or to search the InspectApedia.com website.
Ask a Question or Enter Search Terms in the InspectApedia search box just below.
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.